Man spared jail after attack on partner’s father at wedding

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A 40-year-old man who attacked his partner’s father at a family wedding in Carrickfergus has been spared jail.

Paul William Clarke, a father of three from Silverstream Avenue in Belfast, admitted both assaulting his ‘father-in-law’ then causing criminal damage to a police cell by urinating on the floor following his arrest.

He appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he was handed a 12-month sentence, which was suspended for two years, by Judge Paul Ramsey.

While there was some dispute about whether or not a gin glass was used in the attack, a defence barrister for Clarke said his client suffered from underlying mental health issues which led to “this explosion” at the family wedding.

Prosecuting barrister Mark Farrell revealed police received reports that a guest at a wedding had been injured with a glass or bottle on the evening of March 27 last year.

As officers made their way to the hotel, they saw a man fitting the attacker’s description walking along the Belfast Road. He appeared to be drunk and had a cut on his hand, and when he was arrested, he was “abusive and violent” both on the way to custody and when at the police station.

When other officers arrived at the hotel, they noticed the hotel’s glass front door had been smashed. Guests confirmed Clarke kicked the door as he left the premises following the attack on his father’s partner.

The best man told officers he had seen Clarke arguing with his partner’s father, which escalated into violence when Clarke struck the older man with a gin fishbowl glass.

Mr Farrell told the judge that both Clarke’s partner and her father – the injured party – were in court to support Clarke, adding “clearly a lot of alcohol had been consumed that night”.

Defence barrister Taylor Campbell said his client accepted he attacked the other man, and that Clarke has apologised for his “unreasonable behaviour”.